Infiot 2021 Predictions: Rise of the Remote User
The WAN Edge networking space will continue to evolve in 2021 fueled by the permanence of the remote user – a key trend caused by the pandemic. A growing number of organizations now have long term ‘work-from-anywhere’ policies. A recent Gartner survey points out that almost 50% of their surveyed companies intend to allow their employees to work from home full time.
Until recently, work happened in the office. Companies always had some people remote, but they used the internet and VPNs as a bridge to the office. This has changed. The office now acts as an on-ramp to the same digital workplace that can be accessed from a work from anywhere setup. Remote users require the same in-office IT experience as if they were at work. VPN clients won’t suffice. The rise of the remote user will drive adoption of technologies like hardware-based wireless WAN edges, zero trust security, and edge compute. While these technologies delivered piecemeal work in an office setup, they won’t suffice for the ‘work-from-anywhere’ user.
Converged thin hardware edges based on cloud-native architectures with the ability to scale to connect and manage hundreds of thousands of users as compared to a traditional branch office will continue to become mainstream. This thin hardware form factor for diverse edges will serve as a replacement for legacy software-based VPN technology, which cannot meet the needs of the remote user. We will continue to see more interest in improved security as organizations enable their remote employees to deal with sensitive information, and aim to provide multiple levels of security through edge devices, via zero trust security for better security posturing. VPNs fail to allow coarse-grained network isolation with different levels of access for different users. User access control and isolation is critically important to limit resource access and mitigate cyber attacks.
Edge computing is now broadly considered a complement to the more centralized cloud. Data access and processing at edge environments will become paramount in 2021. Thin hardware edges with computing power paired with ‘artificial intelligence’ that can be used to not only filter and process big data volumes, but run a multitude of local services will make remote working much easier. 2021 will bring some adoption of 5G networks, beyond backup to higher bandwidth broadband connectivity. 5G will go hand-in-hand in supporting a productive remote user workforce and enabling portable networks. Organizations will work edge-computing strategies into their 5G deployments in order to enable faster real-time processing for remote users and diverse edges.